Reverse Osmosis Water: How Does It Work?

Lovingly referred to as “RO water” in our office, reverse osmosis water is the safest, most preferred way to filter your drinking water, hands down.

A lot of modern technologies for purifying water sources involves, somewhat incongruously, adding various chemicals into it – such as chlorine or its hybrid cousin, chloramine (a not-so-reassuring blend of chlorine and, if you can believe it, ammonia!) all in the interest of killing harmful bacterias, algaes and overgrowths.

Yes, yes, they say such chemical additives are safer for us, and there is some truth to that, but groups like the Environmental Working Group beg to differ, claiming that there’s already a ton of harmful chemicals in our water sources that haven’t even been named and studied by the EPA – and for those that HAVE been studied, the amount deemed to be safe hasn’t been updated in over 5o years. Yikes!

Reverse osmosis technology is the only type of purifying filtration that doesn’t use any chemicals to make your water pure and safe. Rather, it uses a semi-permeable membrane that separates water molecules from everything else – not only by the size differential of the water molecules, but also by molecular charge. Literally, everything else can’t pass through the membrane -even miniscule contaminants like paint pigments or even tobacco smoke can’t get through.

 

 

All that leftover contaminant guck gets drained away in a little dribble of waste water. Speaking of the waste water, at Kinetico we’re widely renowned for our distaste for overt waste and that’s why for the Kinetico K5, our best RO unit to date, it produces only 1 gal of waste water per 1 gal of clean and pure RO water….unlike our competitors. Theirs tend to average around 3 gal of waste water per 1 gal of of RO water.

Plus, that K5 has another unique feature to us – the Everclean Rinse: its uses that fresh, clean RO water to rinse the membrane off every time the storage tank tops off, extending its life and ensuring purity with every pour.

So what’s the catch?

There’s two primary arguments that come up when people are considering the Do I or Don’t I question of RO water:

The Water Pressure

RO units rely on pressure to push the molecules through the membrane. And not all water pressure is created equal. In fact, the water pressure varies greatly from source to source. The average city water source emerges somewhere between 40 – 100 psi (pounds per square inch); well water, on the other hand, has a little bit less – 20 – 60 psi depending on the pump.

Not to mention, there’s factors like temperature and TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) that also impact the ability for RO’s to make water. This is why they always have a storage tank of some kind, so there’s a large stock of water ready to use on demand. BUT, most storage tanks use an air bladder with a pressure of about 5 – 9 psi. And for a 3 gallon tank, there’s usually only about 1.25 gallons of water in there due to bladder displacement. As the tank begins to empty, the pressure at the faucet dwindles down to an annoying dribble. And who wants to wait 12 minutes to fill up the coffee pot?

Not I, said the hen. And neither do you, I imagine.

That’s why Kinetico offers the aptly named WOW storage tank (water-on-water). It uses the water pressure of the home (40 – 60 psi) to propel water to distant locations. In the 3 gal WOW tank, there’s 2.7 gal of stored clean water and the impressive flow rate is consistent all the way until it empties. And when it needs to refill, there’s no bladder resisting it, so it refills quickly. That’s why you can get up to 40 gallons per day of fresh, pure water from the K5 Reverse Osmosis System.

 

It Takes the Good Minerals Out

Here’s the thing: water has never been a primary source for you to get your minerals. You get them from food or food supplements. Even if you were to drink an entire bathtub of mineral-rich water in a day, you might not get 10% of the minerals your body needs.

The benefit you get from drinking unfiltered water and it’s minor amount of beneficial magnesium and calcium does NOT outweigh the catastrophic impact of all the OTHER stuff in that water: lead, arsenic, chromium, nitrates, chloramines, PFOA & PFOS as well as about 35,000 + of other chemicals.

 

However, if you like the taste of mineralized water and still feel like every little bit helps, then the K5 Reverse Osmosis System DOES have the capability to re-mineralize the water. All you need to do is add the Mineral Plus cartridge in there, which costs $73 and only needs to be changed every other year – this will put the absorbable forms of magnesium and calcium back into your drinking water where it won’t harm your pipes.

In this day and age, when chemicals abound unrecognized in seemingly “safe” water supplies, it really comes down to you to stay informed on what’s happening and take the necessary steps to provide safe drinking water for hearth and home. Reverse osmosis water is a no-brainer investment that will provide returns on your family’s health for generations to come.